TANF Separate State Programs, Time Limits, and Participation Requirements, 2005-2008

The introduction of Federal time limits on the receipt of cash assistance under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program was a central and major part of welfare reform. The purpose of this study was to conduct a follow-up to an earlier study funded by ACF - Welfare Time Limits: State Policies, Implementation, and Effects on Families - which looked at these policies based on evidence from the last quarter of 2001, the earliest date that families could reach the Federal time limits (albeit some states have imposed shorter time limit periods for TANF families). This follow up study also built on our knowledge concerning the implementation and results of the Federal time limit and state policies, including separate state programs.

The project involved several types of activity to accomplish this purpose. These included: 1) updating what is known from research about the effects of time limit policies and the implications of related policies; 2) describing state/local policies and practices in states where large numbers of families have reached the time limit; and 3) obtaining state-specific information, from data collected by ACF, about the number of families reaching and approaching time limits and descriptive information about their family characteristics compared to the total TANF population. These activities also incorporated an assessment of separate state programs, funded by the states, which may extend cash benefits to TANF recipients reaching the Federal time limits or provide assistance not counted toward the Federal time limits.

Related Resources

One of the most controversial features of the 1990s welfare reforms was the imposition of time limits on benefit…